I Called Him Morgan Screen 96 of 13 reviews

I Called Him Morgan

2016

I Called Him Morgan Poster
  • It’s a tactic of many a modern screenwriter to parlay the high drama of classical tragedy into a more approachable and relatable template. Kasper Collin’s I Called Him Morgan does this too, but his tragedy is ripped from cold reality, as it relays the heartbreaking tale of superlative bop trumpeter, Lee Morgan.

  • Fulfilling the promise of My Name Is Albert Ayler, Collin’s I Called Him Morgan offers not just an aesthetic revelation, but a political one as well. By exhuming Helen’s story, Collin’s film reveals what jazz fandom ignores—the misogynoir that stretches deeply, if imperceptibly, into the lives of some of the genre’s most hidden figures.

  • Collin imbues the type of documentary dependent on talking heads and stock footage with unusual dimensions of beauty and mystery... Throughout, Collin recreates this milieu by mixing evocative stock footage of New York with beautiful black-and-white still photos, many taken by the legendary Francis Wolff, with new images of landscapes that symbolize the shifting moods of the narrative.

  • Less of a sensational true-crime tale and more of a moody immersive work, I Called Him Morgan is a compassionate documentary. You don’t have to be a jazz lover to get this film, for it’s about a man’s life and demise, told by friends and loved ones who revive him once more with their stories. Lee Morgan lives on in The Cooker (1958),The Sidewinder (1963), Search for the New Land (1964), but also in the memories of those who knew him best.

  • Helen may be as much a victim of the murder she committed as anyone else, but ultimately no one is a victim in I Called Him Morgan, which pulls off the delicate maneuver of mourning Lee's early demise while celebrating the exhilarating love, liberty, and artistic brilliance that characterized most of his life.

  • It's a work of supremely elegant journalism, a reverse-engineered dig into one of jazz music’s many misapprehended life stories... With clean, elegant cuts between hi-contrast still photographs (the majority of them taken during recording sessions, by label executive Frank Wolff), Collin’s depiction of this period invigorates for its minimalism—the headiness, the experimentation, the camaraderie.

  • Collin’s film brings out these stories with a wealth of details energized by the experiences and the insights of his interview subjects as well as an engaging range of archival images and clips.

  • Swedish docmaker Collin directs this brilliant, melancholy, and soulful doc built around the relationship between hard-bop jazz genius Lee Morgan and his common-law wife, Helen.

  • This film is less a history lesson than an immersive documentary about what it was like to live through that heady, turbulent time.

  • Collin wisely uses [Morgan's wife Helen More's final] interview judiciously, alternating between excellent archival stills and performance footage, some very good new interviews with Morgan’s contemporaries (including Wayne Shorter!), and well-chosen stock materials to evoke mood and weather. I Called Morgan is a dexterous work of fusion: it’s jazz history meets true crime. And it’s fascinating.

  • Few musical genres connote as specifically refined a visual aesthetic as jazz: Alongside those complex, clattering notes, a lot of immaculate lighting, styling and tailoring went into the birth of the cool. So it’s fitting that Kasper Collin’s excellent documentary “I Called Him Morgan,” a sleek, sorrowful elegy for the prodigiously gifted, tragically slain bop trumpeter Lee Morgan, is as much a visual and textural triumph as it is a gripping feat of reportage.

  • This movie is poignant; the personalities on display here are all beautiful, brave people. As much music as the movie showcases, this isn’t an analytical documentary. There’s no material about Morgan’s ability to fit in to both a somewhat commercial iteration of jazz and free modes of playing. And it sidesteps the “Sidewinder” years almost entirely. Its treatment of the music is more phenomenological.

  • Boasting the Oscar-nominated Bradford Young (Arrival, Pariah) as one of its directors of photography, I Called Him Morgan is never less than attractive and watchable, its gaps filled in with moody footage of wintertime New York shot on 16mm through smeared car windshields and windows. And it has the advantage of relying heavily on stories told by old jazz musicians, who, unlike rock stars, always seem to make good interviewees. But it also never rises above this kind of due competence.

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